Improving Border Security, Banning CRT, and more…

April 17, 2023

New Action to Improve Border Security

 We all know that the the Biden/Harris Administration has shown a blatant disregard for the human and drug smuggling crisis at our border.  In fiscal year 2022, Texas had over 1 million illegal immigrant apprehensions – a new record. To counter this dereliction of duty, two bills passed the Senate last week and I strongly support their passage.   

First, SB 2424 creates a new state crime for entering the state of Texas illegally from a foreign country. It authorizes law enforcement to arrest and prosecute those who enter Texas illegally anywhere in the state.

Second, with illegal immigration on the rise, so are drug cartels and human trafficking. SB 1427 seeks to align the penalties for smuggling in Texas with the federal human trafficking and smuggling laws, thereby helping to strengthen our southern border and cut down on these crises by enhancing the penalties of these crimes.

Securing the Integrity of Texas Elections: SB 1039, SB 1911

Election irregularities occur in every election cycle. SB 1039, passed last week, would establish a civil administrative review process to identify and remedy irregularities and improve access, security, processes, documentation, and accuracy with each election. SB 1039 amends current law relating to processes to address election irregularities and provides a civil penalty.
SB 1039 would provide a vehicle, going forward, for election judges, candidates, and proponents/opponents of a measure to inquire with the county election officials about identified irregularities and get a rationale for the irregularity and hopefully a plan to improve the situation.  If the county is unable to provide a satisfactory reason, the inquirer could raise the issue with the Secretary of State (SOS). Once at SOS, the inquiry would be reviewed and, if necessary, an audit regarding the specific issue identified would be initiated. If a violation of the Election Code is identified, the SOS will notify the county and work to get the issue resolved. Lastly, SB 1039 will provide an avenue for the SOS’s office to appoint a conservator to oversee elections for two federal election cycles. 
The Senate also passed SB 1911. Here’s some background on this bill: Harris County (where Houston is located) is our state’s most populated county. The outcome of the elections there can impact the outcome of statewide elections, and that affects us all, no matter where we live. 
In the November 2022 election, at least 120 of the 780+ Election Day polls in Harris County were supplied with an insufficient amount of ballot paper. Over 29 polling locations were not able to secure more ballots before running out of paper, and voters were not able to vote. 
SB 1911 would increase the penalty for:

  • the intentional failure to deliver election supplies timely from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor;   
  • intentionally obstructing the distribution of election supplies for an election from a Class C misdemeanor to a state jail felony; and
  • unlawfully revealing how a candidate or measure is doing or if a voter has or has not voted in an election before from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony.

Banning Critical Race Theory in Higher Education

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is one of the most divisive, harmful developments we have seen infiltrate our society in recent years.  CRT tries to define people, actually judges people, by their group affiliation—most often skin color but also gender and economic status—rather than viewing them as individuals created in the image of God. Such division is the very heart of prejudice, discrimination, and racism.  CRT also falsely accuses (and teaches our children) that the United States is a fundamentally racist nation. In fact, the New York Times 1619 Project specifically states that the purpose of the American Revolution was to protect the institution of slavery. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Last session we took action to ban the teaching of CRT in grades K-12.  Last week, the Senate passed SB 16, which bans the teaching of critical race theory in Texas colleges and universities. This week, the Senate will most likely consider additional bills concerning higher education, including bills to ban discriminatory policies of “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) and a bill that would eliminate tenure at the public state university level. As a member of the Higher Education Committee, I heard testimony on both of these bills.

The week ahead:  The Texas Budget

We will kick off the week by considering the proposed state budget for the 2024-2025 biennium.  I will provide more details when the budget is finally passed, but I will share now that the budget funds key priorities in public education, border security, public safety, health and human services as well as the infrastructure needed to address our growing transportation needs. 

The proposed budget includes funding to support the Senate’s $16.5 billion property tax relief plan contingent upon the passage of legislation and voter approval. 

If you would like to watch the proceedings as the budget and other matters are considered on Monday, please visit the following link: